Permanent Delegation of Portugal to UNESCO
District and municipality of Lisbon
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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party
A prime ensemble of historical monuments and an iconic area of the city of Lisbon, and of Portugal itself.
The site has been occupied for 2,000 years, and in Roman times became a city called Felicitas Julia Olisipo. It underwent a period of Arab occupation. It was the trading centre of the Portuguese maritime empire from the 15th to 18th centuries, was historically a place where cultures mingled, and was the capital of Portugal. Between 1580 and 1640, when Portugal and Spain formed a single political unit, it served (from 1581 to 1583 and in 1619) as the seat of the Iberian court.
Following the earthquake of 1 November 1755, it was reconstructed under the direction of the Marquis of Pombal, creating the first modern Western city, unique within Europe and indeed the world. It was built using a number of innovative solutions, including road infrastructure, the use of piling for foundations and construction on new embankments along the river, together with earthquake-proof and fire-proof structures, sewerage facilities and public hygiene measures. The city that had been created influenced the construction of many new cities in Africa, Asia, Oceania and America, some of which have already been designated World Heritage Sites.
The rational approach behind this system and its capacity for prefabrication was almost immediately applied to the building of Vila Real de Santo António in southern Portugal. It is a rich ensemble of public monuments, religious buildings and sculptures, together with a Roman archaeological site, and integrates medieval, Renaissance and Baroque buildings. It features predominantly Classicist architecture, interspersed with examples of late Baroque, Neoclassical, Eclectic, Art Nouveau and Modernist design.
The Lisboa Pombalina served as the powerbase for both the monarchy and, later, the Republic. It was Lisbon’s reception area and stateroom, the centre of political representation, the hub of revolutions, the place where monarchs, dignitaries, invading troops and those going out to attack embarked and disembarked, and a venue for military parades, the welcoming of heroes, peaceful or violent political protests, regicides and the proclamation of the Portuguese Republic, as well as a source of poetical and literary inspiration for the Portuguese and foreigners alike.
Up until the earthquake of 1 November 1755, the area that forms the subject of this proposal was the city’s political and commercial centre, as well as being home to the royal palace, which was surrounded by a maze of medieval streets lined with traditional shops full of the new products that had made their way into the country due to the Discoveries and Portuguese trade with the Indies. Despite having suffered an earthquake, a tsunami and a fire that went down in the annals of history as the very first ‘modern disaster’ and became infamous all over the world for its extreme devastation, loss of life and the destruction of heritage of incalculable value, the area’s abundant human activity and cultural treasures were subsequently reinstated.
The reconstruction work, which began in 1756, was carried out according to an utterly innovative orthogonal plan in a unique and paradigmatic feat of Portuguese urban design. The plan, which was developed under the enlightened, autocratic regime of the Marquis of Pombal, was drawn up by Manuel da Maia (a General and High-Engineer of the Kingdom), and carried out under the direction of the military engineers Eugénio dos Santos and Carlos Mardel.
The area that is being proposed for inclusion in Portugal’s Tentative List corresponds with that defined on the plan for the reconstruction of the city that was approved in 1758, including the Baixa Pombalina between the former Terreiro do Paço (now the Praça do Comércio) to the hill of the Chiado district and the Misericórdia parish beside the river. This buffer zone is aimed at preserving the views over the area in question and ensuring the protection of areas with key monuments and the remnants of historical structures that predate the earthquake. The overall area is around 70 hectares, while the buffer zone is 185 hectares. The boundaries of the proposed area are as follows:
North Largo Latino Coelho, Calçada do Duque, Largo do Duque de Cadaval, Largo do Regedor, Praça D. João da Câmara, Largo de São Domingos, Rua Barros Queirós, Rua D. Duarte and Rua João das Regras;
South Rua da Ribeira Nova, Praça da Ribeira Nova, a short stretch of the Avenida 24 de Julho beside the Mercado da Ribeira, Avenida Ribeira das Naus, Praça do Comércio and a short stretch of the Avenida Infante D. Henrique up to the corner where the Ministry of Finance stands;
West Rua da Moeda, Rua de S. Paulo, Rua do Alecrim and Rua da Misericórdia;
East Rua do Arco do Marquês de Alegrete, Poço de Borratém, Rua da Madalena, Rua de S. Mamede, Calçada do Correio Velho, Rua da Padaria, Rua dos Bacalhoeiros and Rua dos Arameiros.
The Lisboa Pombalina was first mooted for Portugal’s Tentative List in 2004. Since then various initiatives aimed at the conservation, protection and regeneration of the area have been promoted, and some have been implemented.
Three key instruments have been approved for this property. The Lisboa Master Plan (LMP) has been in force since 2012 and sets out a development strategy for the municipality, the classification of land and regulations and parameters for the occupation, use and transformation of land. On a different scale, the Detailed Plan for the Protection of the Baixa Pombalina (DPPBP) has been in force since 2011 and has been carried out in part. This DPPBP covers 60% of the area of the proposed property. Its implementation plan sets out various initiatives aimed at promoting improved accessibility through a network of ‘assisted’ routes, the regeneration of public spaces and the creation of facilities and housing, with investment from the town council, the state, concessionaries and the private sector. The creation and approval of these land management instruments require the involvement and participation of the local people and those who work within the area, in particular local associations and representatives of business. In addition, 2012 saw the approval of the demarcation for the Lisbon Urban Regeneration Area, which is based on the Urban Regeneration Strategy. The RE9 programme was created as part of this, as a set of incentives for upgrading buildings.
In terms of protecting the property, the proposed area is almost completely included within the area classified as an ensemble of public interest (EPI), under the title of Lisboa Pombalina (the property classified in 1978 as the Baixa Pombalina was changed by Decree no. 740-DV/2012 on 24 December. Notable changes included the renaming of the area as Lisboa Pombalina, the amendment of its category from a property of public interest (PPI) to an EPI, and the extension of the designated area so that it now matches with that of the 18th-century plan, including the central network of streets that is called Area I and corresponds with the DPPBP area, plus a new zone, Area II, which comprises the transition zones with areas of pre-existing layouts, in particular the hills of the adjacent Chiado, Chagas, Santa Catarina, São Mamede and Portas de Santo Antão districts). It follows that any plans for urban development are reviewed by the Direção-Geral do Património Cultural (Directorate-General of Cultural Heritage), which is charged with managing, safeguarding, enhancing, preserving and restoring the property that makes up Portugal's movable, immovable and intangible heritage. Every building with legal protection has a defined area of protection, meaning that those attempting any kind of urban planning measures have to consult with the Directorate.
In addition, at a municipal level, all the immovable cultural property of recognised architectural, historic, scenic, archaeological and geological interest forms part of the city’s overall heritage, and any intervention is subject to regulations set out in the MMP. Any work on this property must be preceded by the assessment and profiling of the building, identifying elements that are to be protected and the level of intervention permitted.
After their classification as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, immovable cultural properties are added to the list of sites of national interest (Law 107/2001), which is an important factor in ensuring the preservation of the property in the long term. The buffer zone included in the World Heritage List will tally with a special protection zone (DL 309/2009).
Lisboa is a vulnerable city, and the Lisboa Pombalina is subject to specific dangers.
Natural phenomena The biggest threat is the risk of an earthquake. Preventative or mitigating measures have been defined for this eventuality, and specific legislation has been established for buildings. Concerted action by several services is planned in case of an earthquake, involving civil protection bodies, the fire brigade, security forces, the armed forces and health services.
For other events, such as floods and tidal disruptions, the implementation of the municipal ecological structure and its connectivity with the river have been fundamental in minimising risk. A new Drainage Plan is also being devised.
Population dynamics The two biggest problems are the ageing population and the depopulation of the city centre. The City Council has implemented and is running various programmes and initiatives to counter the former problem, with an emphasis on revitalising public spaces, promoting straightforward and accessible mobility options and encouraging citizens to use public rather than private transport. The trend of people moving away from the city has been showing signs of turning around over the last decade. The City Council’s efforts to tackle this phenomenon include upgrading of buildings through funding programmes and tax incentives, together with the creation of new services, especially when targeted at local areas.
Urban development Adverse building work in areas of heritage poses a major threat, as it can be detrimental to a property’s authenticity. Both the LMP and the DPPBP set out specific rules for intervention in such areas.
Tourism The increase in the number of tourists now travelling to Lisbon, and who flock primarily to the historical areas, with the densest concentration in the Lisboa Pombalina, may pose a threat to the quality of the urban environment. The City Council is currently carrying out studies on the impact of tourism in order to devise an action plan. Thus far, the city has responded to tourist requirements by creating infrastructure, providing or upgrading facilities, particularly those of a cultural nature, improving accessibility and creating accommodation and leisure zones. At the same time, the 2015-2019 Strategic Tourism Plan for the Lisbon Region envisages a set of measures aimed at attaining a new level of excellence in tourism for the region.
These measures are aimed at countering the threats facing Lisbon. It is essential that all of the measures for the Lisboa Pombalina are carried out in a concerted way, through a cohesive management plan that covers the whole property that forms the subject of this application.
Justification of Outstanding Universal ValueThe Lisboa Pombalina is the result of an extraordinary feat of construction, informed by Enlightenment thinking, that transformed Lisbon into the first modern Western city, following the destruction of the city centre in the violent 1755 earthquake. Once the pioneering Pombalino Plan, which favoured uniformity, order, restraint and standardisation, was put into effect, the centre of Lisbon was revamped according to a rational, innovative model: it adopted the idea of blocks as units in the plan, gave a hierarchy to façades, split up the area’s functions according to the contours of the land, rebuilt foundations and structural systems, standardised the design of façades, defined regulations for protecting against the risk of earthquakes (gaiola pombalina) and fire (firewalls), designed a sanitation network and set out an innovative method for redistributing property in a proportional way – today known as equalisation.
Of these features, the blanket implementation of an earthquake-proof structural system that improved the way in which buildings would behave if faced with an earthquake was particularly significant due to its originality. The guidelines included reinforced connections between walls and flooring and, most significantly, the introduction of an internal wooden structure within the walls, which came to be known as a gaiola pombalina, or Pombalina cage, and which comparative studies have shown to be the most advanced anti-earthquake system of the 18th century.
The Lisboa Pombalina is the end result of a remarkable feat of urban design and architectural and technological planning, driven by the Marquis of Pombal and put into practice by a group of Portuguese military engineers, all of whom were hugely experienced and equipped with pioneering technical knowledge. It is a vast site that features a highly coherent style and is immensely valuable in terms of heritage. The regular orthogonal plan includes a vast array of public monuments, religious buildings and sculptural treasures, together with two main squares that shape life in the city. Within the district lies the Praça do Rossio, which at the time was often the venue for popular protests, while the large Praça do Comércio serves as a symbol of power, lined with government offices, and is one of the defining images of Lisbon, with its riverside location only enhancing its scenic impact.
This new city is the crowning achievement of what many consider to be the Portuguese school of urban design, and which went on to influence the construction of a large number of new cities in Africa, Asia, Oceania and America, many of which are already on the World Heritage List.
Built on a site that had long been settled, the Lisboa Pombalina is also notable for its respect for cultural heritage, an attitude that was unusual among planners at that time. Despite its rational and regular layout, the area preserves and incorporates pre-existing features in structural terms, with its main squares and the reinstatement of its 16th-century streets, and in the integration of architectural elements that had a particular structural or artistic value, as was particularly evident in the building of new churches.
Criterion (i): The Lisboa Pombalina is a masterpiece of human creative genius because it is considered to be the ‘first modern city of the Western world’, in the words of José-Augusto França. It was the very first to be conceived and executed according to the criteria and comprehensive methodology that continue to form the basis for the urban planning of all newly constructed or regenerated cities today. This methodology was able to address and respond i) to the requirements for design and conception, with the following: the application of a modular architectural approach that could be adapted to various types of use (commercial, residential, religious, public) and to various aesthetic interpretations; sizing of the roads, adapted to envisaged population growth and an increase in traffic; the creation of a number of public spaces for trade, recreation and official buildings; ii) to the need for security, by taking the following measures: enhancing the structure of the foundations; and introducing earthquake-resistant systems and fire-proof elements; iii) to the need for hygiene and sanitation, with the following: the planning and execution of drainage systems for wastewater and rainwater; and the planning and creation of a rubbish collection system.
Due to the quality and impact of its plan, it has maintained much of its integrity and has assimilated centuries of history, styles and trends, so that it is now a monumental site that is unparalleled anywhere else on earth.
At the same time, the human creativity reflected throughout this historical area bears out the multifaceted contributions of a nation that – at the time when the original plan was drawn up – held an important geostrategic role and was able to absorb manifold influences from all over Europe and the world, to a remarkable degree.
As such, the Lisboa Pombalina is a masterpiece of human creative genius that has resulted in a historical and monumental property unique in the history of humanity. It arose from the efforts of the Portuguese people and the will of political decision-makers, who sought to make the plan of a modern city a reality. It has served as a model for its methodological and technological solutions, which were revolutionary at their time and, over the years, have been enriched by the very best contributions from all over the world, due to the nation’s global presence.
The Lisboa Pombalina is the culmination of Lisbon’s mission as a city oriented towards the wider world, within the context of its time, while at the same time a witness to the European Enlightenment and a visionary testament to the forward-looking 19th-century city.
Criterion (ii): The Lisboa Pombalina marks a milestone in the history of city planning. First and foremost, it signalled a breakthrough due to the fact that five different options for intervention were originally envisaged, including reconstruction à l’identique. Instead, the most complex option was chosen, which meant demolishing the lower town and establishing a new city where the rubble of the old one lay, with improved systems for draining rainwater and floodwater. This option entailed the creation of a zone where building work could not be carried out on based on individual interests, and where the various fields of expertise were subject to the systematic vision of the overall plan.
Moreover, the planning of a new city on the ruins of an existing district, which entailed the imposition of an architectural orderliness and the regulation of the management process in order to ensure that the work would be carried out effectively, was unprecedented at its time. Realising an urban plan on such a vast scale required unparalleled technical and organisational skills.
The holistic urban plan was forged from the input from multiple disciplines and employed the following measures and conditions:
- The demolition of buildings that had withstood the earthquake;
- A balanced subdivision of real estate in order to free the urban layout from the constraints placed upon it by cadastral surveys;
- Mandatory compliance with the reconstruction plan on the part of individuals;
- Reduced fire risk due to regulations that stipulated the heightening of gable walls in order to prevent distances between roofs being bridged by fire;
- A guarantee of rights to private ownership and financial feasibility for business ventures;
- The construction of public buildings and services in order to revitalise the social and economic side of the city centre;
- The establishment of a detailed waste collection programme, a sewerage network and the provision of drinking water to drinking fountains;
- Reduced earthquake risk due to the widening of the streets and decreased height of the buildings;
- Formulation of model projects that could be applied using different architectural approaches;
- Strict design requirements, with detailed regulations relating to the height of ceilings, the overall structural system, the design of spans and adornments, and the integration of wooden and stonework structures;
- The reinstatement of locations and names of businesses that existed prior to the earthquake (shoemakers, leatherworkers, goldsmiths, silversmiths, gilders, etc.);
- Concentration of business activities on the ground floor, with residences on the upper floors;
Criterion (iv): The exceptional nature of the Lisboa Pombalina as an outstanding example of an ‘architectural ensemble’ that exemplifies a key period of human history.
This criterion is evident on four levels: memory, plan, method and action.
These four levels can be analysed according to the following themes:
- The preservation and continuity of the memory of the city;
- The Lisboa Pombalina as a unique testament to the assertion and maturity of the Portuguese school of urban planning, characterised by a universal dimension to its experience and marked by many different influences as the result of the nation’s maritime expansion;
- The Lisboa Pombalina as a solid vision of a capital city that emerged long before the earthquake, according to information gathered through some of the most important town planning endeavours that had previously been carried out in Europe;
- The Lisboa Pombalina as created according to an implementation methodology that was based on a remarkable system of prefabrication that resulted in its model being applied to other cities.
The remnants of what came before were maintained by taking the following steps: containing the mesh of the new layout within the boundaries formed by the old neighbourhoods of Mouraria, Alfama, Castelo and Graça, where almost nothing had been destroyed; demolishing and rebuilding the Chiado area in order to bring the new Pombalino plan up to the borders of the regular grid of the Bairro Alto neighbourhood, which had been designed and constructed in the 16th century; interrupting the mesh of streets running North-South in order to incorporate the main thoroughfares that had existed before the earthquake, such as the Rua Nova d’El-Rei and the Rua Nova; providing a new setting for gateways and other architectural elements of old churches on the façades or within the interiors of the new churches; and remodelling the plan in order to integrate monuments and important buildings that had survived the disaster, such as the Corpus Christi Convent.
The Lisboa Pombalina arose from the ongoing development of Portuguese urban design. This remarkable and innovative plan coincides with the growing assertiveness and maturity of the Portuguese School of Urban Planning and Military Engineering, within the context of a universalistic ‘empire’ spread across the world.
The Lisboa Pombalina provided a destination for a tried and tested process that had been refined in North Africa, India and, most importantly, in Brazil, with the design and construction of ‘city-towns’, mainly begun in the 1750s.
At the same time, the Pombalino plan meant the realisation of the urban, visual and monumental image of a capital that had already been envisaged by Francisco de Holanda when Lisbon began to acquire its globally significant role in world trade.
This notion of a modern and cosmopolitan Western capital continued to be furthered at the behest of King John V. It was hoped that Lisbon would be a new Rome, with the existing and planned areas mapped exhaustively so that the future western area of the city could be supplied with water by the Águas Livres Aqueduct, according to a plan drawn up by Manuel da Maia in 1728. Other important buildings such as the Necessidades Palace were also built in this area.
While highlighting the Baixa’s pre-eminence as an example of an architectural ensemble, it is worth mentioning the outstanding nature of the metrical standardisation that was applied, together with the structural and compositional systems. From the stonework to the doors and frameworks, not to mention the roofing and the azulejo (tiles), everything formed part of an utterly original process of prefabrication.
The exceptional nature of the Lisboa Pombalina as an outstanding example of a ‘technological ensemble’ which illustrates a significant stage in human history.
The Lisboa Pombalina is a unique universal property because it is an outstanding example not only of building typologies, but also of an architectural and technological ensemble in which a number of different technical solutions were combined in a sophisticated and original way. In order to appreciate its value, it is necessary to understand the way in which this site, which is now being nominated for the World Heritage Tentative List, was planned.
The solution that was adopted for the reconstruction of the area was, in fact, the one that presented the greatest difficulties from the point of view of infrastructure. The area had been hit hard by the tsunami. From a geological perspective, the conditions were unfavourable for the creation of new foundations, as the area was situated on mud flats and the alluvial zone at the old confluence between two streams. In order to improve those conditions, it was necessary to use stakes between 1 and 6 metres long, which could not only transfer the loads of the new buildings to ground that was ideal for foundations, reaching considerable depths, but would also have helped to compact the surface of embankment soil and sludge, thus increasing its resistance and load-bearing capacity.
In an original approach to resolving the problem of infrastructure, the solution that was adopted for the foundations was complemented by an infrastructure network of streets and sewers that were created to conduct and drain waste water from the buildings and carry the underground outflow from the two river basins formed by the two valleys to the north of the area under reconstruction.
This was the first integrated set of technological solutions to be applied to infrastructure within an urban area of such size in a systematic way, and it was technologically innovative at that time. Scaling based on the span as a standard measure was used at every level of the project and applied to all of the scales for planning dimensions:
- At a large scale, on plans, with the introduction of the concept of blocks, which functioned as a single building, grouping together several plots, and with their size based on the span;
- At a medium scale, for elevations, by imposing a certain orderliness on façades in terms of length and height, resulting in the uniform and regular distribution of mechanical resistance;
- At a medium scale, on plans, with the internal layout of buildings determined by the subdivision of the depth of the plots using frontal walls that ran parallel to the façades. This standardised approach determined the number of internal divisions within the buildings, using grids made up of right angles with the frontal walls;
- At a smaller scale, with the standardisation of the dimensions of stonework elements, the distance between vertical props and sills, wooden structural elements and even the dimensions of finishings such as frameworks and azulejo.
This coordination in terms of size resulted in an industrialised manufacturing process for national construction materials that was completely unprecedented in history. The process was defined by the serial production of all of the constructive elements required for an urban undertaking on such a massive scale.
The integrated, systematic and rational use of building solutions that were known to be able to reduce the vulnerability of buildings to earthquakes was also technologically pioneering. Admittedly, the gaiola pombalina, or ‘Pombalina cage’, which combined the flexibility of wood with the rigidity of masonry, based on cross-linked frontals made up of vertical props, sills and struts, with their interstices filled by stone or brick masonry, was not innovative in its own right. What was innovative about the Pombalina cage was the way in which it was used systematically, with enhancements and rules for applying it that were aimed at improving its effectiveness. These enhancements consisted of the following:
- The imposition of the rules of symmetry in order to ensure the even redistribution of the forces caused by seismic events;
- The meticulous creation of interconnections between orthogonal frontals, and between these and walls of masonry by inserting wooden cages, metallic elements, walls and flooring, and using roof beams and counter beams.
An outstanding example of an architectural ensemble ‘which illustrates significant stages in human history’.
The initial plan for the Lisboa Pombalina, which was drawn up in 1756, and the role of the General Administration for Public Works, who was in charge of executing the Royal Decree of 1769, underwent various modifications in the course of the hundred or so years over which the plan was implemented.
The Lisboa Pombalina therefore reflects a dynamism and willingness to shape the city without falling back upon strict, uniform and centralised diktats for reconstruction. Without rewriting the plan, that dynamism brought with it the pulse of a society that was beginning to prepare itself for the moment at which it would espouse rights for all.
In essence, three significant periods in human history are reflected here: the period of the Pombalina administration, up until 1777; the Enlightenment under Queen Maria I of Portugal and the Romantic period.
Right from when the plan began to be implemented, the Lisboa Pombalina underwent changes that allowed the ‘cold style’ of the original draft to be enhanced to stylistic and economic ends. Over this period, and indeed up until the point when the Marquis of Pombal was removed from power, the construction work was far from complete, with the exception of the Rua Augusta.
In terms of stylistic influences, this initial period witnessed a compromise between the predominantly Classicist trends and stylistic flourishes of Baroque and Rococo. Economic conditions, meanwhile, made a number of changes necessary, including the replacement of the mansard roofs on the 4th floor with an additional floor that featured a ‘wide balcony’, in order to maximise future rentals.
The period of the Enlightenment during the reign of Queen Maria I saw the initial implementation of the Pombalino plans for the sloped area of the Chiado, which was reserved for the construction of palaces and houses for the aristocracy in an area separate from the chequered grid layout of the Baixa. These buildings begin to reveal a ‘second Pombalino architectural style’ that is marked by it special use of the ground floors, as well as shops and mezzanine areas with sophisticated framing and decorative elements, some of which bespeak Baroque influences, others Neoclassical traits.
This differentiation and diversification between individual areas through the use of decorative elements, albeit at one with the overall regularity of the façades, continued to be applied until the late 18th century, when eclectic elements appeared more frequently.
The reign of Queen Maria I, an era characterised by the continuing enthusiasm for earthquake-proofing and an Italianate, Neo-Classical aesthetic, was followed by a period that is essentially characterised by Romantic influences. Due to the economic impact of Brazilian independence, the 1820 revolution and the dissolution of the religious orders in 1834, this period is characterised by the remodelling of interiors and their adaptation to new uses, an increase in the prevalence of eclectic elements, which became scattered throughout the different parts of the property, together with new decorative elements, azulejo panels and changes to the ground floors, which now featured the shop windows of new enterprises.
This 100-year period over which the plan was executed culminated in the completion of the two main squares that marked the extremities of the Baixa (the Praça do Rossio and the Praça do Comércio).
To the north, these finishing touches came with the gate allowing access into the new public walkway and, most significantly, with the construction of the new Dona Maria II National Theatre in a Neoclassical and Romantic style, which set the whole tone for the Praça do Rossio and provided its main axis of symmetry. Later, in 1870, this square was enhanced by the statue of King Peter IV at its centre, together with paving stones decorated to resemble the waves of the sea. To the south, the final addition, also from that same period, was the erection of the triumphal arch over the Rua Augusta in around 1870, giving a sense of unity to the eastern and western sides of the sweeping Praça do Comércio, which opens onto the River Tagus and was also paved in the late 1800s.
Criterion (v): The Lisboa Pombalina is hugely iconic in Portuguese culture, a resplendent core that has proven fundamental to its international profile, despite being situated in a vulnerable area (in seismic terms) that is under the impact of irreversible change.
The Baixa bears out the remarkable endurance and continuity that were inherent to the evolution of the site before and after the earthquake. These two qualities were responsible for the ongoing human settlement of the area, despite the fact that it had suffered such a great disaster. Above all, this settlement is based on the area’s commercial activity and its status as the symbolic seat of the nation’s government.
In the 15th century the Baixa area was the site chosen for the construction of the Royal Palace, as a sign of the opulent reign of King Manuel I. In the late 16th century the palace was enhanced and embellished by the tower designed by Filippo Terzi and intended to provide quarters for King Filipe II. Over those very periods, the Baixa was the centre of trade for a nation adept at geostrategy and with ties all over the world, and the place where the riches of international trade were unloaded and exchanged before ultimately being reloaded onto other vessels and distributed throughout Europe.
The reconstruction work following the earthquake required 340 decrees and other legislative instruments, published between 1755 and 1838, to restore and enhance the hub of activity that traditionally existed in the destroyed area.
In order to re-establish the area as the seat of power, the Philippine tower served as a source of inspiration for the design of the new Praça do Comércio, as a ‘defining archetype for the grandiose appearance of the Lisboa Pombalina’. The Praça regained its function as a ceremonial venue first, soon followed by a resumption of its function as a centre of power with the erection of the equestrian statue of King José I and the installation of the central government offices and the Stock Exchange. To the North, the Praça do Rossio housed the new Palace of the Inquisition, located so that it stood in symmetry with the Arco da Bandeira, as a symbol of the merchant class and bourgeois power.
The area was thus the site of various kinds of social activity, dominated by social and cultural life, with public and private interests coexisting in closer proximity than ever before. This liveliness led to a new kind of awareness and openness that resulted in the transformation of this common and public property, affecting both its spatial representation and its aesthetic dimension.
The reestablishment of the site’s commercial function was a more complex process that was based on one of the decrees issued in November 1760, soon after the earthquake. This set out a ‘hierarchical system of commercial activity, creating a monopoly for the Baixa’. The original enterprises and professions that had existed there before the earthquake were redistributed along streets with names that were identical to those of the thoroughfares before the disaster, but which were now ordered in a propitious, logical and modern way. Each of the following trades was given either a whole street or a specific part of one: dressmakers, merchants selling Indian crockery, tea, cloth, wool and silk vendors, goldsmiths, silversmiths, watchmakers, booksellers, drapers, sellers of knickknacks, gilders, lorgnette-makers, tinsmiths, goldbeaters, stallholders, tavern-keepers, leatherworkers, saddle-makers, shoemakers, clothes dealers, haberdashers, silk weavers, milliners and many other professions all provided services to the people.
The Lisboa Pombalina is undoubtedly an outstanding example of the settlement of people and a culture that has been exposed to great vulnerability due to the terrible disaster of the earthquake. Today, that earthquake is considered to have been one of the most devastating in history, having razed a nation’s centre of power and commerce and caused a huge number of deaths.
Criterion (vi): ‘The Baixa has appeared in thousands of works and records of culture’ within a city that João Brandão, a 16th-century historian and one of first to concentrate on Lisbon, described as ‘the fairest of flowers’. Even in the years before the earthquake, the Baixa was a theme in art, a source of literary inspiration and testament to the Portuguese civilisation.
The Relação em que se trata e faz uma breve descrição dos arredores mais chegados à Cidade de Lisboa [Report that addresses and sets out a brief description of the neighbourhoods in closest proximity to the City of Lisbon], published in 1625, contains descriptions of buildings and key sites in the Baixa that were directly associated with the riches and products flowing in from the East, such as the warehouses of the Casa da Índia, as well as places that were central to the life of the city, such as the Mercado da Ribeira.
Later, the tragedy of the earthquake served as inspiration for poets in Portugal and abroad, from England to Hungary. Voltaire wrote his Poème sur le désastre de Lisbonne within weeks of the earthquake, and a few years later, in 1759, he set much of his work Candide in Lisbon in the year of the earthquake, including an auto-de-fé scene that his protagonist, Pangloss, witnesses on his great adventure.
The disaster in Lisbon made a profound impact on the European consciousness and made clear the importance of reconstruction as a cultural and civilizational reference. The Lisboa Pombalina came to be considered as a monument to reason, a counterpoint to the urban utopias that came before and after it. For its part, the tragedy of the earthquake itself became a recurring theme in Portuguese fiction, employed by writers from Abade de Jazente to Agustina Bessa-Luís and Hélia Correia.
In addition to serving as a source of literary inspiration, it is worth noting that the 1755 earthquake provoked wide-ranging discussions during the period of the Enlightenment, from philosophical discourse by the likes of Voltaire, Rousseau and Kant to scientific analysis such as the astronomical studies of Tobias Mayer or the mathematical investigations of Johann Friederich Jacobi and Johann Gottlob Krüger.
It was also the subject of pictorial and iconographic representation which would become popular all over the world, with the worst and most destructive depictions showing the scourge of the earthquake as the first ‘modern disaster’. This came at a time when the attraction of horror in culture was incorporated into the emergence of Romanticism.
As it rose from the rubble left by the earthquake, the Lisboa Pombalina also rose to become the centre of literary inspiration within the city, from the 1758 text by Amador Patrício of Lisbon on the Pombalina rebuilding measures to the inauguration of the statue of King José at the centre of the Praça do Comércio, together with other episodes, instances of gallantry, devotions, everyday scenes, calamities, princely weddings, festivities and even crimes and chastisements.
In the 19th century it inspired Romantic writers such as Guilherme de Azevedo, Gomes Leal and Cesário Verde. The Martinho do Rossio café became a meeting place for poets like Nicolau Tolentino and Bocage. In the second half of that century, the writer Eça de Queirós used the Baixa and especially the Chiado, with its Grémio Literário literary guild, the Casa Havaneza tobacconist and the Hotel Bragança, as settings in his novels, centring around the doings of the upper middle class and the institutions of power.
In the 20th century, most of Lisbon’s output in the arts, literature and journalism was closely associated with the establishments that had been popular in the 19th century, together with a number of new places such as the Brasileira café in the Chiado, the Livraria Bertrand, the Martinho da Arcada café and the Café Gelo, frequented by Aquilino Ribeiro, Fernando Pessoa, Alexandre O’Neil and David Mourão-Ferreira.
The Lisboa Pombalina has been variously described as a place of tedium, inwardness, conspiracy, proletarian struggle, quaint memories, Surrealism and post-Surrealism, post-Modernism and Minimalism. It has continued to inspire great literary figures such as José Saramago, António Lobo Antunes and Cardoso Pires.
Another aspect that has been fundamental to the Baixa’s profile is that it has served as the stage for countless important historical and political events. It was the scene of many autos-de-fé, ships landing and departing, the reception of foreign monarchs and dignitaries, protests, a regicide, military ceremonies, the proclamation of the Republic, funerals, revolutions and countless other moments that have made this the reception room and political hub of the whole nation.
To further illustrate this idea, it is worth remembering that before the earthquake, the Terreiro do Paço had come to function as the seat of power of the Iberian Union for the two years that King Filipe II had spent in Lisbon, together with the ten-month stay of King Filipe III. After the Restoration, the Baixa saw the Infanta Catarina de Bragança leave to become Queen of England, taking the Seven Islands of Bombay and Tangier with her as her dowry. After the earthquake it witnessed a prodigious feat of technology with the transportation, lifting and positioning of the very heavy bronze statue of King José I, which for Portugal’s national engineers was an achievement on a par with the erection of the obelisk in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican.
Other noteworthy events included the parading of the French troops in the Praça do Rossio, the embarkation of General Junot at the Cais do Sodré, the disembarkation of King John VI on the Terreiro do Paço on his return from Brazil, the unveiling of the statue of King Pedro IV in the Praça do Rossio and the opening of the Mercado da Figueira, a ground-breaking modern building featuring a novel iron structure.
Of course, it also witnessed the funeral of King Luís I and the wedding of King Carlos I in the São Domingos Church, not to mention the succession of landings and welcomings on the Cais das Colunas of figures such as Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, King Edward VII of England, King Afonso XIII of Spain, Queen Alexandra of England and President Loubet of France.
Members of the royal family attended boat launches from the Doca do Arsenal, and the area also saw the departure of expeditionary forces to the colonies, the regicides of King Carlos I and Prince Royal Luís Filipe, their funeral, the proclamation of the Republic from the terrace of the Paços do Concelho, the arrival of General Mendes Cabeçadas at the head of the revolutionary movement on 28 May 1926, opening the way for the Salazar regime, the annual commemoration of that revolution, ceremonies to mark Portugal Day and the granting of military decorations on the Terreiro do Paço to those who had fought in the Colonial Wars, the welcoming of Portuguese airmen on their return from daring raids across the world, the landing of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, the Carnation Revolution, demonstrations for freedom, concerts, art installations and many other public events.
The list is almost endless, but it amply demonstrates the importance of the Lisboa Pombalina as a venue for key historical and cultural events in Portugal.
Statements of authenticity and/or integrity
The authenticity of the Lisboa Pombalina is evident in the following aspects:
Form and design: The plan for the Lisboa Pombalina was realised in full, and has remained unspoilt in terms of the arrangement of streets and the layout of the blocks in the Baixa, the Chiado and the riverfront. The design, dimensions and form of most of the façades have been preserved, with alterations that do not detract from the look that was originally intended for this historical area of the city, and are not detrimental to their sophisticated appearance or their modern approach to standardisation.
Materials and substance: The vast majority of buildings within the nominated area still exhibit remarkable integrity in structural and formal terms. Others have been altered, thus benefiting from the flexibility inherent in the plan, and display a succession of styles from different eras to great effect, including 19th-century Revivalism and different strains of Modernism.
Use and function: The concentration of shops and services that has long defined the Baixa has essentially been preserved. As part of these efforts, a heritage-related initiative called Lojas com História (‘Shops with a Past’) is currently underway. Moreover, the upgrading of the Praça do Comércio and its buildings has brought a new dynamic to this space. Two other functions that are characteristic of the Baixa and define its modern feel have also been maintained: the exercise of the power of the state (in particular in the Praça do Comércio) and various cultural activities, reflected by the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Chiado, the Carmo Archaeological Museum (one of the oldest Portuguese museums), the more recent Lisboa Story Centre and the Bank of Portugal’s Money Museum, the national theatres of São Carlos and Dona Maria II and the Faculty of Fine Arts, to name but a few examples. It is also worth highlighting the importance of the churches that dot the entire area, with most of their cultural heritage almost completely intact. In terms of the Baixa’s other function as a residential area, it has seen a reversal of the depopulation trend.
Traditions, techniques and management systems: The Baixa emerged as the first commercial district of the city and an area renowned as a hub of economic and financial power, as well as the seat of the government and the offices associated with it. Gradually, over its nearly 260 years, it has become known for its cultural and entertainment scene due to its abundance of cafés, bookshops and theatres.
These traditions have been kept alive, although they have admittedly been diluted slightly, as is true of all historic centres in the cities of Europe.
Due to the impact of the fire that swept through the Chiado in 1988, heritage policies throughout the area were enhanced immediately in order to address the need for reconstruction (under the skilled direction of the architect Siza Vieira, whose plan included the employment of techniques, methods and aesthetics that had been gradually abandoned over time), before subsequently being targeted at reaffirming the history and integrity of the area.
As part of this process, management practices with this aim have been implemented and safeguarded by the LMP and the DPPBP.
Location and setting: Lisboa Pombalina continues to be the symbolic centre of the city and the country, for the people of Lisbon and of Portugal as a whole. Life in Lisbon has been shaped by this fact, which has caught the public imagination and survived over time, despite the continual growth and proliferation of the city’s districts.
The Tagus, moving slowly past the Praça do Comércio, offers wonderful views of the area, demonstrating the inherent authenticity of its overall image as the ongoing legacy of the reconstruction plans approved around 260 years ago.
Preparing the application for the Lisboa Pombalina to be added to the Tentative World Heritage List provided an opportunity to define a zone of all-encompassing transition, primarily aimed at safeguarding the views of this urban area.
Spirit and feeling The precision of the reconstruction plan for the Lisboa Pombalina – which created a modern city but was able to maintain the vital rhythms, routes and images of the destroyed district – is an obvious testament to the positive image that the Portuguese have of themselves, as shown by the way in which they responded to the tragedy of the earthquake by prioritising the notion of the city as a place of order and protection.
All of the key moments in the nation’s history have been reflected here, whether political, diplomatic or cultural, providing the rich iconography that informs the people’s collective heritage.
Literature, the visual arts and fashion have always crossed paths in the streets of the Lisboa Pombalina, the haunt of figures such as the characters created by Eça de Queirós (the foremost Realist Portuguese novelist of the second half of the 19th century) and the phantasmal presence of the heteronyms of Fernando Pessoa, who was born in the Chiado, opposite the São Carlos National Theatre, worked in the Baixa (the Rua dos Douradores serves as a key character in his posthumously published novel The Book of Disquietude), and wrote at a table in the Martinho da Arcada café, catching the smell of the ocean as it wafted in along the Tagus and seeped onto the Praça do Comércio, inspiring his mythogram of The Fifth Empire.
Comparison with other similar properties
Bordeaux: A port city that is directly associated with winemaking, inscribed on the World Heritage List due to its large urban and architectural ensemble, which was created according to Enlightenment principles. It differs from Lisbon due to the essentially regional nature of its port activities and the morphology of the land, as it is almost flat. Bordeaux’s Enlightenment-influenced urban layout differs from that of Lisbon due to its monumentality and the fact that it covers a vast expanse and was created over a long period of time. Lisbon, meanwhile, is remarkable for the fact that the area in question resulted from a single overall plan that was innovative by virtue of applying various constructive techniques, regulations to protect against risks, standardisation and the proportional redistribution of property.
Edinburgh: The capital of Scotland boasts a striking contrast between its medieval town, which grew organically and retains its urban layout and tall, narrow buildings, and its new town, which was plannedas an alternative to the old town. It was constructed from 1765 and many of its most iconic buildings have been preserved. Despite the similarities between the two cities, as both of them have planned areas, the big difference is that the Enlightenment-influenced area of Lisbon was built over a pre-existing urban area, and that its plan respected and integrated major buildings that had survived the earthquake.
São Luís, Maranhão: A city founded by the French in 1612 and captured by the Portuguese just two years later. The historic centre has Enlightenment-inspired features, but was also adapted to the local climate. During the 18th and early 19th centuries the city was a major port for exports from the region. The historic centre of São Luís has preserved its urban fabric in keeping with its surroundings in an exemplary fashion. With their Enlightenment-influenced design in common, the roles that São Luís and Lisbon played differed in terms of importance in the various areas.
St. Petersburg: St. Petersburg is closely associated with its river, and its cityscape is punctuated by magnificent buildings and gardens, much like Lisbon. They differ from one another in terms of the land on which they are built, as St. Petersburg covers a large, flat area traversed by canals, while Lisbon is built upon densely clustered hills and valleys. Both reflect 18th-century Enlightenment ideas, although this style is dominant in St. Petersburg, while Lisbon features other styles from key periods that are integrated and brought into keeping with the existing features of a small area. St. Petersburg embarked on maritime exploration from the 19th century, consolidating its trading position within the Baltic and making the most of its location as Russia’s westernmost port. For its part, Lisbon was a forerunner in global maritime exploration, and enhanced its trading profile through contact with other continents, absorbing influences from distant lands.
Vila Real de Santo António: Founded by the monarchy, Vila Real de Santo António replaced the nearby defunct village of Santo António de Arenilha, which had been destroyed by the sea in the 16th or 17th centuries. The town was designed by the Casa do Risco (Planning Department) under the direction of Reinaldo dos Santos, and completed in 1776. It coincides with the culmination of the Marquis de Pombal’s major project of reformation, and was designed from scratch as a factory town for processing fish, as well as a place to live. When the Marquis of Pombal was removed from power, the town was neglected, re-emerging only in the mid-19th century with the rise of the canning industry.
Its urban layout reflects the symbolism of state power, as the Praça Real (Royal Square) is the civic and commercial centre for the town.
It is a small settlement that has never had the prominent role of Lisbon.